On Tuesday, at the Casper city council's work session, the council gave the Casper Police Department the go-ahead to begin the process of buying an armored vehicle.

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The vehicle, a Lenco BearCat G2, is currently listed at $169,725, with an additional $9,300 in shipping costs, and is from 2006.

The city may try to use some of the $5.5 million available in the opportunities fund to pay for the new vehicle, though nothing has yet been confirmed.

Keith McPheeters, Casper Police Chief, said that the department believes, that although the Natrona County Sheriff's Office has access to one of these vehicles, it's not available at all times and can be cumbersome to get access to.

McPheeters said the vehicle would have a new engine and while it may be almost two decades old, due to the improvements made to the vehicle, it should last the department for several decades.

Councilmember Amber Pollock asked McPheeters about the kind of perception from the community that the vehicle could give.

McPheeters said in response that they understand the concern associated with police departments purchasing used military vehicles, and they are trying their best not to replicate those mistakes.

The department will be painting the vehicle navy blue, similar in color to other police vehicles, and McPheeters said that the vehicle will be useful in non-life-threatening situations such as search and rescue missions.

Councilmember Jai-Ayla Sutherland said that she appreciated the reassurances from McPheeters regarding the safety provided by the new vehicle and the benefits it will provide the community and that it isn't being bought to intimidate the public.

Councilmember Kyle Gamroth, who was the only council member to vote against approving the purchase, said that he believes that it could be more helpful for the police department to invest in mental health efforts, as police are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

Councilmembers Shawn Johnson and Bruce Knell were not in attendance.

Vice Mayor Steve Freel said that just like he believes it's important to provide firefighters with the right equipment, the city should be providing police officers with the equipment they need, as he knows it would help save lives.

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